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trying to decide where to go for snorkel vacation

trying to decide where to go for snorkel vacation

Old Jan 3rd, 2004, 09:13 AM
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trying to decide where to go for snorkel vacation

we would like to take a caribbean vacation over the 4th of july. it is myself, my husband and our 17 yr old son. we love to snorkel off the beach, not too into boat rides. we would like some advice on the best bargains out there. we arent too picky about the hotel. we like it right on the beach preferably tho and definitely modern. wow, now i am realizing we are kinda picky. we have been to the paradise island and would like to try somewhere different. we are definitely on a budget since flying out of iowa is soooo expensive. any help would be greatly appreciated
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Old Jan 3rd, 2004, 09:32 AM
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For snorkeling off the beach you can't beat St. John. Stayed at the Westin last June with my two kids and it was great. The beach there is nothing to see though. We just left the property to hit a different beach each day. Returned to hotel mid to late afternoon and they swam in the pool. You could also stay at Caneel and would not have to leave the property as it has the most beautiful beaches. You won't be disappointed with St. John.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2004, 09:45 AM
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You may want to consider Mexico. I once spent a fun and relatively inexpensive weekend snorkeling in Cozumel. I snorkeled off of a boat, but I understand that you can also snorkel off of the beach down there. The hotel that I stayed at was the Fiesta Inn - it's called Las Brisas now. It was nice, inexpensive, and had a great pool. It was not directly on the beach, though. I have also snorkeled in Akumal. It was very nice as well and it has a pretty nice beach.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2004, 09:56 AM
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The only place I snorkeled off the beach was Turks and Caicos Island. It is a beautiful beach. Prices may be high departing from Iowa. You would have to compare prices. Good luck.
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Old Jan 4th, 2004, 06:05 AM
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This is a popular topic on this board and if you do a text search, you'll get lots of ideas.
My favorite resort for snorkeling is the Presidente in Cozumel. It beats all of the other properties that I have snorkeled at including Caneel, Little Dix, Ritz in STT, Hawksbill, Antigua and Sapphire in STT.
There is a small barge sunken right off of the beach and it attracts an unbelievable amount of fish.
The hotel is very nice, particularly the beachfront rooms. You should be able to get good rates in the summer.
Good luck!
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Old Jan 4th, 2004, 04:09 PM
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I have snorkeled all the places mentioned above and I vote for Bonaire. 99% of the snorkeling is from the beach and it is spectacular. There is a fair amount to see on the island besides if you want to rent a car and explore.
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Old Feb 14th, 2005, 12:23 AM
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I agree about St. John being one of the best - only St. John lodging tends to be much more pricey. Stay on St. Thomas and do day trips over to St. John via the walk/auto taxi. Do your search by typing in "Saphire Beach Lodging". The Saphire Beach resort is beautiful and a little pricey, but there are some cheaper deals right around that side of the island, you just have to weed through the options. Don't go over to the other side (West) of St. Thomas and try drive over to take the water taxi to St. John on the East coast because of the traffic - takes hours sometimes to get though the main town on St. Thomas (cruise ship traffic). There is some pretty great snorkeling right in Saphire bay off the beach in front of the Saphire Beach Resort. When facing the bay, go right off the beach and you will see corals with lots of colorful fish & eel. Funny story - I bought a big dog bisquit from this old guy who hangs out over at the Coral Gardens with his dog at that beach, and I had it tucked into my bathing suit at the hip to feel fish once I got out to the corals. When I stopped and did the snorkel hang, I looked up and right behind me I had about 50 ballyhoo right behind my head ranging from 4" to 1', I looked down and saw about 50 blue tang around my waist, and about 10 parrots hanging around my feet - shocked me! I didn't know the biscuit had started to disenegrate! They just loved me and followed me around like puppies for about an hour after that - wonderful fun! No one got greedy and tried to bite anything on me either! Back on land looking out to the water, if you go to the center part in front of the resort you run into some murkier grass areas with lots of cow & puffer fish (with a huge 6" baracuda on watch in the center of the grassy parts that freaked us out but didn't mind us going past all). Looking out to the bay if you go to the left there were huge bait balls of small fry that were near the beach that made me dizzy swimming around in them. That's just St. Thomas - but the very best was on St. John. Since Saphire Beach is on the E. side of St. Thomas with the Ferry over to St. John really close, it's an easy day trip to go cross over onto the other island that is mostly parkland. We took the ferry over almost every day (cheap ride) and the absolute best spot we found was a fairly hidden one that we had to hike to - called Waterlemon Cay on the North side of St. Thomas. You hike from a park, but I can't remember the name of the park. It was just a parking lot with some outhouses, and there were donkeys there on the road. You will need to get a very local map to show where Waterlemon Cay is - I didn't see it on most maps. Once you park in that lot, when you are looking towards the sea you go to the right on a path along the shore for about a mile or 2. Take water to drink! That path finally led us to this bay, and that's where you go so you can swim over to the little island. There was a tire to sit on and put on fins, but there are only bushes for you to hide (not really hide) your day packs or take a small dry sack and pull it along with you as you swim like I did. Walk all the way around the bay and pick the closest spot between the mainland shore and the island. Swim past the moorings but watch for boats because they can't really see you until they are on you. Small channel, fairly deep but you can see the bottom all the way across. Once across, you swim around that island but remember that there is really only 1 tiny little spot - not really a beach - to get out and rest and it's on the other side of the island. You need to be a good swimmer. When you get close to the island, I would suggest starting by going to the right (north) so you will have the current to help you on your way south on the opposite side of the island, helpful when you are more tired. This is worth it - trust me! You will see the most diversified amazing corals and fish & turtles, valleys and shelfs, etc.. just don't rush it - get there early in the day to really enjoy. Some fish are very large, biggest parrots I saw the whole trip, but there are so many colorful small ones to see if you take the time. Once you are ready to go back to the mainland shore again, going across the channel the same way you got out there, stop for a minute to rest or just snorkel along the beach towards the south for a ways and you will probably see small fry in mass as well as Cuttle schools, huge silver fish that are thin but big with huge eyes (don't know name darnit), plus lots of turtles. If you go out by the moorings that are closest to the path you came in on that faces North towards the little island, you will see starfish that are at least 3' wide on the sandy bottom below as well as rays. Tip - get out of the water inside the little bay and not too much farther West than the moorings, unless you want to work your way up to the beach through lots of black spineys. So worth the swim and the hike, best we've seen! Amost don't want to put this out there to save it for the next time I get there. If you aren't into the hike and swim thing, just go to the regular snorkel beaches on St. John, all are great. I've been to belize, barbados, florida, st lucia, san juan, la capia & the beaches of the baja plus others on a budget - and this was one of the most interesting close to the states. Take a snorkel boat and you will see some more great places around the VI's and BVI's, but that hike was most interesting. If going to those other countrys that I mention about, I can guide you to the best spots for snorkeling off the beach at those - just email me [email protected] Hope this helps, can't believe I typed so much! - Enjoy!!
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Old Feb 14th, 2005, 05:05 AM
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Another vote for Bonaire, with St. John a close second. You could snorkel two different beach accessible sites each day for a month, and not get to them all. Excellent snorkeling too on Klein Bonaire.....a five minute water taxi ride from Kralendijk. If you're into long, white sand beaches, this is not the island for you; but it's hard to beat for a snorkeling vacation.
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Old Feb 14th, 2005, 05:37 AM
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I second the recommendation of Intercontinental Presidente on Cozumel - the best of the best...
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Old Feb 14th, 2005, 11:26 AM
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If you are going to go to St.John, my suggestion would be to stay there and pay the extra if possible. It is well worth it, rather than traveling the ferry back and forth. I would suggest a villa. We use privatehomesvi.com
They will be fairly cheap because it is the off season. We stayed at "Tree House" which is on a mountain side, a VERY short distance from Cinnamon Bay and Trunk Bay (excellent for snorkeling). It is a roomy house with a hot tub and a gorgeous veiw! We have also stayed at Tesseract (alittle more pricey) and Viewtiful. Both of these have small pools which are very nice. The major benefit of renting a villa is that you can bring food in a cooler with you and save ALOT of $$$$ by not dining out. We have done St.John on a budget and it was just as nice as the expensive resorts (probably better). Good Luck and I hope you find the perfect place!
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